Handgun Metallic Silhouette International

Handgun Metallic Silhouette International

Handgun Metallic Silhouette is a rimfire and centrefire revolver and pistol shooting discipline where competitors aim to knock down metal animal-shaped targets. The targets are placed on steel stands in banks of five and set at a variety of known distances, with the competitors having a certain amount of time to knock as many down as they can. The firearms used must fall into one of four categories: Production, Revolver, Standing and Unlimited, and there are three official matches: Big Bore, Smallbore and Field Pistol, with each match having its own categories.

In 2016 the SSAA and the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) officially affiliated. The SSAA is now the only association conducting Handgun Metallic Silhouette matches in Australia using the IHMSA rules. In addition, some clubs conduct Handgun Metallic Silhouette events using NRA rules as the SSAA has a close affiliation with the NRA.

  • History

    Silhouette shooting had its origins in Mexico in the early 1900s, when the Mexican Revolutionary general Pancho Villa’s troops used live animals as targets in long-range rifle shooting contests. Live animals were replaced with metal silhouette targets in about 1950. This new rifle competition ‘migrated’ to the United States in the mid-1960s and developed quite a following there.

    The first Handgun Metallic Silhouette match, using the same targets at shorter ranges, was conducted in 1975 in Arizona and was very well received by shooters. One year later, the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) was formed and the sport grew. The match soon came to Australia and by the early 1980s, matches were being conducted around the country.

  • Targets, scoring and matches

    Targets and scoring

    In Handgun Metallic Silhouette International, competitors shoot a handgun to knock over metal targets shaped like chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. They are of varying thicknesses and are placed at ranges between 10 and 200m, depending on the calibre of the handgun being used. A steel stand is set into the ground and the targets are placed on it in groups of five, with each five-target group called a ‘bank’.

    Targets are fired upon in timed two-minute stages, firing at five targets per stage, in order, from left to right. The target must be knocked over to score. Any hit that doesn’t topple the target is scored as a miss, no matter how good the shot was.


    Handgun Metallic Silhouette International comprises three official matches, with each match subdivided into categories.

    Big Bore

    Big Bore matches require the use of centrefire handguns to knock down the almost life-sized targets, which are placed as follows: chickens at 50m, pigs at 100m, turkeys at 150m and rams at 200m. The matches are broken up into several main categories for competition: Production, Revolver, Standing, Unlimited, Unlimited Standing, Unlimited Any Sight, Unlimited Half Scale and Unlimited Any Sight Half Scale.


    Smallbore matches require the use of rimfire handguns to knock down chickens at 25m, pigs at 50m, turkeys at 75m and rams at 100m. You might expect that because the range distances are halved that the targets would also be half-sized - not so. The targets are scaled down to three-eighths of full size, which makes this match more difficult to shoot compared to the full-sized Big Bore match. There is also a 50m Rimfire match, using one-fifth-scale targets, which is popular with clubs having restricted ranges.

    Smallbore is conducted using the same rules as Big Bore, except only .22 Long Rifle ammunition may be used and it must be fired as manufactured. No Magnum or hyper-velocity (stingers, etc) ammunition may be used. Smallbore matches are broken into several main categories: Production, Revolver, Standing, Unlimited, Unlimited Any Sight, Unlimited Fifth Scale and Unlimited Any Sight Fifth Scale.

    Field Pistol

    Field Pistol is a centrefire match available to clubs with a range limited to 100m. It is shot at the same ranges as Smallbore, but requires centrefire handguns. The targets for this match are scaled-down to half-size and are much heavier than the Smallbore targets.

    Field Pistol matches include only two categories: Production requires stock handguns with factory sights, while Production Any Sight requires stock handguns fitted with scopes, red dots or other optical devices. The scope, mounts and other optical devices must be used as manufactured, with no modifications.

    The firearms used in Field Pistol are further limited to chamber only straight-walled handgun cartridges of standard manufacture with a maximum case length of 1.29" (32.76mm). Both Field Pistol categories are fired from the standing position only.

  • Firearms and categories

    The handguns used in the Big Bore and Smallbore matches fall into four categories.


    Production category handguns are the mainstay of Handgun Metallic Silhouette International. This category was introduced to allow shooters to compete on an even footing as far as equipment was concerned. The handgun must be used complete in form, finish and mechanical function as manufactured, with few modifications allowed. Aftermarket sights and grips may be fitted, provided they are catalogue items and can be fitted without modification to the handgun or the part.

    Barrel length must not exceed 10.75" (273mm) and the weight of the handgun with all accessories must not exceed 4lb (1.8kg) unloaded. A trigger job may be performed by polishing the sear engagement surfaces of the trigger and hammer. The factory springs may be modified, but no aftermarket parts may be used. Muzzle brakes or ported barrels are not allowed in this category. Bolt-action handguns are not allowed in the Production category, but all other types of action are acceptable.


    The Revolver category is self-explanatory, but the revolver must also meet the Production category rules, in that it must be a Production revolver. The handgun must be loaded with five rounds and fired as a revolver, although the same handgun may be loaded singly if later used in the Unlimited category.


    The Standing category is also largely self-explanatory; the handgun must be fired from a standing position. The firearm used for this category must be a Production-class handgun and may be a single-shot, revolver or self-loader. The handgun may be held with one or both hands, with no support to the shooting arm between the wrist and shoulder.


    In the Unlimited categories, the shooter’s imagination can practically run wild as far as handgun selection is concerned. The only restrictions affecting an Unlimited handgun are a barrel length and sight radius limit of 15" (381mm) and a maximum weight limit of 6lb (2.7kg). There is no restriction on calibre or action type, and many of the centrefire bolt-action handguns are chambered in rifle calibres.

    Other rules

    Apart from quality firearms, the Handgun Metallic Silhouette International  competitor requires certain other pieces of equipment. With rifle-like loads being used in pistol-length barrels, the noise generated on the firing line can be high, so good-quality ear protection is recommended. Many shooters choose to wear earplugs, as well as muffs. Eye protection is recommended when in the immediate vicinity of the firing line, as splashback from close field targets may result. Eye and ear protection is also often recommended for spotters using scopes or binoculars within close proximity when shooting is in process. Most competitors also choose to wear an elbow guard or pad on their shooting arm when shooting in the Creedmoor or back position. A leg guard or blast shield is also required when shooting a revolver from the Creedmoor position.


    Selection Policy

    There are two selection methods for SSAA International teams: 

    •  Invitational Team:

    The National Board or President may appoint and approve an Invitational or Presidents Team. The selection of this team may be done with advice from the National Coaching and Discipline Supervisor and National Discipline Chairman.   

    • Selection Criteria:

    The National Discipline Chairman submits a Team selected according to the Selection Criteria to the National Board for approval. The selection is based on merit and must be approved by the National Board.   

    To qualify for a SSAA International Team a person

    • must be a current financial member of SSAA
    • must be eligible for, or, hold a valid Australian passport or have an exemption from the SSAA Inc on our Australian nationality requirement.   

    See other details in the document “SSAA Inc Information and General Requirement for SSAA Team Members” as approved by the SSAA Inc Board.

    Discipline Selection Criteria

    Selection will be based on a disciplines Annual National Championship, with competitors from a minimum of two SSAA State and Territory Associations.

    Selection will be based on the top ten placings at a disciplines Annual National Championship in the core match or matches and/or the match or matches relevant to the international competition to be contested.

    The core match or matches and/or match or matches relevant to the international competition will be determined for each Discipline. Contact the National Discipline Chairman for this information..

    Any Annual National Championships may be used as a selection shoot. If a disciplines Annual National Championship is held six months before the scheduled date of an international event, that National Championship will be used as the selection shoot. If a disciplines Annual National Championship is held less than six months before the scheduled date of an international event, the National Championship of the previous year may, with approval, be used as the selection shoot.  Any variation to this requires approval by the National Coaching and Discipline Supervisor or National President or Board.

    There is no guarantee that a SSAA Team will be sent to an international event.

    All SSAA International Teams are subject to the approval by the National President or Board and discipline funding. 

    A competitor can notify the National Discipline Chairman if they wish to be considered for selection as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after the finish of the National Championships. If notification wasn’t given a competitor must indicate their acceptance or rejection of their team position within two weeks of being officially informed of their eligibility by the National Discipline Chairman.  Any variation to this requires approval by the National Coaching and Discipline Supervisor or National President or Board

    The Team Selections should be completed by the relevant National Discipline Chairman as soon as possible after their Annual National Championship and submitted to the National Board for approval. 

    All Team Members selected according to the Discipline Selection Criteria must be approved by the SSAA National Board before the selection process is complete.

    Approved by the SSAA National Board on 18 November 2018, for implementation on 1 January 2019

SSAA Comprehensive Guide
Competition Results
National Discipline Chairman
Russell Mowles
Ph: 07 5485 0708
Mobile: 0418 819 945
New South Wales
Brian Marsden
Ph: 02 4966 3448
Mobile: 0409 663 441
Cody Abel
Mobile: 0447218449
South Australia
Stuart Kearney
Ph: 08 8376 3567
Mobile: 0417 417 149
John Harding
Ph: 07 3208 4489
Mobile: 0428 136 527
Mick Arden
Ph: 03 5792 1915
Mobile: 0419 429 485
Western Australia
Joseph Brajkovich
Mobile: 0414 474 573
Australian Capital Territory
ACT Handgun Metallic Silhouette

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